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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Revived AR website with local bloggers

Posted by tinako on March 2, 2015

aralogo521x521I’m in the local AR group Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate N.Y.  We just re-launched our website, arauny.org, with a schedule of local writers contributing to our blog a few times a week.

Check it out and subscribe by email or social media for updates.

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Hunter Accidentally Shot in the Face

Posted by tinako on November 24, 2014

A local hunter was accidentally shot in the face on opening day here; I guess he’s going to be OK.  Some in our AR community struggled with their feelings following this news; how does it make you feel?  After about a week of online comments, I offered the following:

With understanding that it is normal and natural to have many different reactions to this news story, but that we can choose which paths to follow, I wonder if anyone would be interested in my understanding of karma, which others here have been mentioning?  If not, click delete.  Nothing here is new, just hopefully clarity on a concept that is often muddled with several meanings, and how karma can work for us.

By my understanding: Karma was originally Hindu, and that is the idea most modern people have of karma: divine justice, something (“the universe”) or someone who keeps track and evens the score.  The Buddha, who lived in Hindu India, found this unhelpful because it didn’t allow room for change.  He understood that even good people may have to suffer for their past harmful actions, but that they would be better off because of the good they were doing now (example: Angulimala) – pertinent to any of us who ever screwed up!  Anyway, Buddhist karma can be seen in two lights: One is the ripple effect, that the kind acts or speech or even “vibe/energy” we put out, affects others and has a chance of coming back to us – we are making the world a better place, and that’s the place we live, so it’s better for us.  Even if the effect is small, we are not making things worse.  I think this is pretty evidently true.  The second way Buddhist karma can be understood is that no matter what effect our acts have “out there,” they have done something to us on the way out.  For example, loving someone who hates us is better than hating them, because we will be happier filled with love than with hate.  I have found this “instant karma” to be true as well, and the effect will probably be huge, life-changing.  So you see, Buddhist karma is more like a law of nature than a faith in justice.

Celebrating accidental violence may fill us with a much-needed sense of satisfaction that the scorekeeper is on duty, but how does it impact us under the Buddhist understanding?  What do we set into the world when we express gladness at others’ misfortunes (what kind of world are we creating), and what does this Schadenfreude (harm-joy) do to us on the way out?

None of this is to say that a person struggling with feelings of joy is a bad person, just that an understanding of the harm it does to ourselves and others may be useful in letting it go.  And we can choose to be glad that the man is not hunting right now, without being glad that it’s because he was hurt.

Namaste.

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Your newspaper may print the truth about circuses

Posted by tinako on November 1, 2014

Educational or Entertaining?  You decide.

Educational or Entertaining? You decide. You can view videos of Ringling’s backstage beatings at RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.

With Ringling Circus coming to our city, a group of us were inspired to take some actions against this barbaric industry (and other animal entertainments).  To support these efforts, I wrote a letter to the editor which was published in our city newspaper last month:

Ban Barbaric Businesses

Ringling Brothers Circus is coming to Rochester at the end of the month. Both dog fighting and animal circuses abuse animals for profit and entertainment. Why condemn and outlaw one and buy tickets to the other? Patronize the wonderful non-animal circuses that come here instead, such as Circus Orange and Cirque du Soleil. Tell your friends, and ask the City Council to ban these barbaric businesses from our community.

Ringling’s PR person got right on that and fired off a response:

Once again, animal rights activists are using our return to Rochester to distort Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s excellent record of animal care.

Everyone with Ringling Bros. takes great pride in presenting quality family entertainment to audiences across the country, but animal rights activists continue to level spurious charges against Ringling Bros.’ dedicated team of animal care professionals.

Ringling Bros. is proud of its human and animal partnerships and the needs of our animals are a top priority. Ringling Bros. meets or exceeds all federal, state and local animal standards, is subject to regular unannounced inspections, and has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Rather than take what animal rights groups say at face value, we invite Rochester families to come see for themselves how the animals are thriving at The Greatest Show On Earth.

STEPHEN PAYNE
FELD ENTERTAINMENT (PARENT COMPANY OF RINGLING BROS.), VIENNA, VA

His distortion of the truth and silly logic made it easy for us.  Someone I don’t know but would like to meet responded in a letter printed October 15th:

Circus should allow access behind the scenes

In response to Stephen Payne, Feld Entertainment, parent company of Ringling Bros., who invites Rochester families to see for themselves how their animals are thriving in their circus, I wonder why he doesn’t invite these families behind the scenes to see how well the animals are housed and treated or install live Web cameras on a website for the public to view.

Each city Ringling Bros. comes to, including Rochester, should install video cameras in the animal quarters to personally view Ringling Bros.’ supposedly humane treatment and hold it accountable for any mistreatment.

This is great, but League of Humane Voters of Rochester felt that the claim that they’d never been found in violation of the AWA had to be answered, and our letter was printed a few days ago:

Ringling Fine Wasn’t Mentioned

In a recent letter, a Ringling Brothers’ representative claims Ringling “has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.” But in 2011, Ringling was slapped with a $270,000 fine (the maximum allowed by law) for 27 violations.

In addition, the writer suggests people come to watch the show to see how the animals are thriving. Behind-the-scene abuse, however, is there for all to see online by Googling “Ringling abuse.”

Join the families who have said “no” to this sort of animal cruelty. Support non-animal entertainment as an act of compassion and support a proposed ordinance recently presented to the Rochester City Council that would ban animal circuses.

This was printed in the paper days before the circus came.  It was better before they edited it*, but see how easy it is to reach thousands of people with the truth?  It took me less than ten minutes to write those two letters, some time over the course of a day for our group to revise the second one, and probably forty seconds to submit it to the newspaper.

You can support our efforts here by starting or intensifying your own action in your city.  The more we can show that this is not a handful of local nuts but a worldwide movement of compassion and justice, the sooner we can end this nightmare.


* For the record, here is what we actually wrote to the newspaper, which was well within their LTE word count:

A representative of Ringling Brothers, Stephen Payne, recently wrote a letter to this newspaper defending the treatment of the animals under their care, saying Ringling “has never been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act” and suggesting people come watch the show to see how the animals are thriving.

Mr. Payne failed to mention that in 2011 the USDA slapped Ringling Brothers with a $270,000 fine, the largest in the history of the Animal Welfare Act and the maximum allowed by law for what the USDA said was 27 violations.

And while it’s ridiculous to think that anyone could confirm what Ringling calls their “excellent record of animal care” by attending a public performance, the behind-the-scenes evidence of abuse is there for all to see online by Googling “Ringling abuse.”

If any of this makes you too uncomfortable to enjoy the circus, you’re not alone – Ringling continues to cancel performances (73 fewer than 2013 – a reduction of 12%) due to declining attendance.

Join the families who have said “no” to supporting this sort of animal cruelty and abuse. Support non-animal entertainment instead as an act of compassion – and support an ordinance banning animal circuses which was recently presented to the Rochester City Council.

Posted in Animals, AR, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gandhi Earth Keepers

Posted by tinako on September 15, 2014

gekiI had the privilege of spending a little over an hour today talking to George Payne, the founder of the new organization Gandhi Earth Keepers International.  If you look at their web site, you will see something unusual – it’s an organization that isn’t focused solely on justice for animals, but which includes this concept as a matter of course.  An environmental organization which happens to fully support animal rights!

I can’t recommend this organization highly enough.  George has taken a personal leap of faith to follow his dream and values to fill a gaping hole in our society: how to solve our problems nonviolently, including nonviolence towards animals.

I hope you will visit the site and support this act of courage.

 

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Gandhi Institute Nonviolence Intensive

Posted by tinako on June 21, 2014

gandhiAs a peace activist, I feel so fortunate to live less than six miles from the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.  A few months ago I attended their seminar on NVC, non-violent communication.  I had read the book, but felt overwhelmed by the task of finding the wisdom to respond in different situations and overhauling my habits of speech, and so it was great that the seminar was half small-group practice session.  The main speaker also discussed race and status.  NVC, in addition to making me a better person in my community and family, can make me a more effective activist for social justice in the areas I focus, primarily, but not exclusively, animal rights.  I’ve thought a lot about the comparison between NVC and Buddhism, but I’ll hold off on commenting for right now.

So I am excited that I am able to attend the Gandhi Institute’s 2014 four-day all-day workshop, their Nonviolence Intensive.  They’ll spend time discussing the lives and teachings of Gandhi and King (whom I have been studying), NVC (I am happy to have more instruction and practice in this useful skill), “tools for inner change based on mindfulness” (I like tools, I like change, and I’m Buddhist!), and “Deep Ecology and the Work that Reconnects” (from a superficial Googling, Deep Ecology encompasses AR, though an AR friend told me he was troubled by it, so we’ll see; and as for work, as my kids are needing me less, I am in the process of deciding what to do with the rest of my life).  So this seminar seems perfect for me.

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Vigil for Squirrel Massacre

Posted by tinako on February 23, 2014

Some friends and I held a silent vigil yesterday during the Holley, NY Fire Department’s “Squirrel Slam.”  Friends of Animals from NYC came to Holley again for an all-out protest, but we attended last year and some of us felt it didn’t reflect our values.  We’re on the same side when it comes to animals, but not so much when it comes to anger.  When it comes to anger, I think FoA and the hunters are on the same side.

I’m really proud that I brought this issue up in our local group and got the conversation started.  And I’m incredibly proud of our group that others agreed and we made it happen.  Sixteen of us lined a very busy corner outside Holley for an hour in gale force winds, hanging onto our yellow signs in silence.  I’d have to estimate that the number of cars we saw yesterday was 30 times what we saw the year before in the center of Holley, where most passers-by probably already knew what was going on.  Most of our signs spoke of our sorrow for the squirrels instead of protest to the hunters (pictures of squirrels, candles, hearts, paw-prints, RIP).  All of us maintained silence.

Some of us wonder whether standing holding signs is effective; I doubt it changed the minds of anyone with an already-formed opinion, and what we really need is a law, but a whole lot of people definitely know what was going on that day in the neighboring town, and that somebody cares.  I’m proud that we did that without adding our anger to the world.  I went home knowing that while we hadn’t impacted the number of squirrels killed that day, we had stood up to say small creatures matter.

There was a fair amount of beeping, whether friendly or not we couldn’t tell, and weren’t really interested – we were there to express compassion, not take a public opinion poll.  Despite the presence of an eleven-year-old girl among us, several passing gentlemen expressed their thoughts about our silent vigil via obscene gestures and shouted expletives.  But mostly no issues.

The FoA protest was later – we didn’t want to compete with it, our group promoted it, and several of our vigilers planned to attend it.  Don’t know how it went.

UPDATE – I heard from attendees that it was about 10 people including a FoA leader, apparently silent on our side, but very, very noisy counterprotesters outnumbering the protesters.  If FoA really put away the bullhorn, I wonder what prompted that – they had been very insistent with us that anger and shouting was the way to go, even frustrated that we felt otherwise.  One attendee said the other side wasn’t really nasty, just having a great time yelling what I’m sure were witty bon mots such as “tastes like chicken.”  I’m not Christian, but I can’t help thinking of the people who mocked Jesus as he suffered with the cross.  I didn’t feel that way when our side was shouting, too.  There is an echoing, enduring power in quiet suffering laid bare.

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Respect

Posted by tinako on February 11, 2014

A friend shared this short video with me.  It’s Cesar Chavez accepting an award from In Defense of Animals.

I liked Chavez’ quote, “The basis for peace is respect for all creatures.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people who exploit animals feel that they are respecting them just because they are careful and serious while they do it.

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An Artist’s Vegan Journey

Posted by tinako on July 23, 2013

Another blog, Honk if You’re Vegan, is running a series on my art.  This is part one: An Artist’s Vegan Journey, about how I became vegan.

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The Echoes of Our Actions

Posted by tinako on December 22, 2011

A Friendly Farm Sanctuary Goat

It can be easy to get discouraged when we see the suffering in the world, the suffering of both people and animals, in every town across the globe.  We can feel as though the problem is too big, and too few people care.  Even good people we love seem oblivious  and unconcerned about the harm their actions cause.  We can’t see things improving, and change seems impossible.  What is the point of yet another petition or march, when the deck is so completely stacked against us?

I have a very small answer, and it begins with a “Hi.”  Every other day I run two miles along a route with many kids trudging to school, lately in the cold and dark.  As is my policy, I have been giving a cheery “good morning!” to all of them since September.  Beginning with no response, after a month or so a few would say “hi” back, and now in December almost all do, and some even smile!  It is not hard to imagine that someone who smiles and says hi on the way to school is at least .0001% more cheery when they arrive, and says something .0001% nicer to someone else.

I care deeply about the suffering of people, but because this blog is about food, and many vegans and vegetarians feel particularly isolated in their sorrow over animal suffering in the midst of a meat-eating frenzy, I’m going to narrow the rest of my examples.  My closest friend went vegetarian after about a year of discussions about why I switched from vegetarian to vegan.  It was an important part of my life, she cared about me and would ask how it was going for me.  It never in my wildest dreams occurred to me that she would become vegetarian – I was just telling her how I felt.  I never asked her if I had influenced her, since I didn’t want to imply she couldn’t think of it herself, but… probably at least a little, right?  My Dad started out angry at my becoming vegan; two years later, after many conversations, he told me he wanted to be one.  He tells me he often stands up for the vegan position in conversations with friends and family.   (Here’s another great example: The Power of One).  I can think of several friends who have cut back on meat or dairy since knowing me.  A lot of nice people ask me questions about being vegan; they are honestly confused about the issues, and tell me they appreciate my thoughtful, non-judgmental answers.  They don’t usually run home and throw away all their meat, but there’s at least a hairline crack in that wall, and they now know a vegan who doesn’t fit the awful stereotype.

It is not easy to keep saying “hi” to people who ignore you.  It is not easy to stand up for vegan values in an engaging way in the face of indifference or hostility.  It takes courage, it takes patience, and it takes faith, a faith in humanity.  Go ahead and march for farm animals, sign checks and petitions, write letters, hand out leaflets, speak to groups.  I do these things, too, but I bet my greatest influence is unintentional, just in the way I live my life, in the obvious peace I’ve found in letting go of eating animals.  I can stand up firmly for animals in public forums, but I think I shine brightest when I can offer gentler activism one-on-one through my peaceful action and speech.

Ultimately I have to accept that I can’t control other people, or fix the world, and I still have to leave space for compassion for those who are suffering now, but I don’t let it discourage me.  I do see improvement on the larger stage as well.  Many states have recently passed laws improving conditions for farm animals.  Celebrate these victories!  Celebrate even getting this issue onto a ballot.  And celebrate the effects your smaller actions can have, even if they seem to diminish into the darkness.  Keep listening for those echoes, and I think you’ll hear them.

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The dance of delusion

Posted by tinako on April 7, 2010

Believe not on the faith of old manuscripts, your master’s teachings, or national belief.   Believe not on the faith of traditions, popularity, or your own dreamings, persuaded that God inspires you.

No, reason truth yourself.   Examine it, test it, and if you find it does good to one and all, live it, and believe.

– my paraphrase of the Buddha, responding to people asking him how to know which prophets were telling the truth

I was reading a chilling article in the NY Times Magazine recently, “How Baida Wanted to Die.”  It was a series of interviews with Baida, a foiled Iraqi female suicide bomber.  The Iraqi woman was in prison, and the American woman interviewer was told by a police director that she would like Baida.  “She’s honest.”

Of course, this was a very odd thing to say, but the interviewer came to agree with him.  I think they both missed the point.  This woman freely and calmly admitted what she had tried to do and said she couldn’t wait to get out and get the explosive vest waiting for her.  She said it was in revenge for a military raid (including Americans) killing her father and four brothers, all of whom she was helping make IEDs (bombs).  She was making the bombs in revenge for seeing the Americans shoot a neighbor.  She felt these IEDs were all being used against the military, and when the interviewer told her the vast majority killed ordinary Iraqis, she would only say that was forbidden.

This woman may have been honest with the police, and she may have been honest with the interviewer, but she was not honest with herself, and I did not like her.  I feel compassion, yes, for her being immersed in a patriarchal and religious extremist culture of violence, where revenge seems like a reasonable use of one’s life.

But what I found most interesting was a fascinating part of the NY Times article where Baida begs the interviewer to come visit her in prison.  The journalist is warned that Baida, who has a cell phone, may be setting her up for a kidnapping by relatives.  The interviewer is careful and does not tell when she’s coming and does not stay long.  She asks Baida if she wants to kill her, and the woman says, “Frankly, yes.  Not specifically you, because I know you.”  The interviewer pressed her, would she betray her to her family?  “I won’t sacrifice my friendship.  But if they insisted, yes, I would, yes.  As a foreigner it is halal (good) to kill you.  If they kill Americans, they will do a big huge banquet for dinner.”  And she smiled.  She went on to tell how her relatives had called to get information about the journalist, and promised to help Baida escape if she gave it to them.  She seemed excited.  “They do not want to kill you, but to torture you and make lunch of your flesh.  I could not do anything to help you.”  She described seeing an American tortured, his eyes gouged out, and added “God keep you safe.”  She smiled again and continued pleasantly, “If I had not seen you before and talked to you, I would kill you with my own hands.  Do not be deceived by my peaceful face.  I have a heart of stone.”  The journalist left hurriedly, knowing Baida had called her cousins when she arrived, and they were on their way for her.

Baida’s speech sounds psychotic, but it’s just torn.  She has a wall up in her mind between two things that she believes: “All Americans are evil and I want them to die.”  “Some Americans are friendly and helpful and I don’t want them to die.”  This wall is crucial to her daily functioning because obviously these two things are mutually exclusive.  In this fascinating speech, you can see her dancing back and forth from sentence to sentence, peeking first on one side and then the other side of this wall.  Baida has three choices.  Her first choice is to continue to wobble back and forth in this dissonant way, believing two incompatible things.  The alternative is to knock down the wall.  It will be painful to knock it down and see both sides at once, because she will see that her model doesn’t work, that she must give up one of these ideas.  So her second choice is to believe all Americans really are evil and must die; she will then have to convince herself that each American that she meets is evil, from the soldiers handing out candy bars, to the aid workers, and even friendly interviewers.  She will have to mock anyone who supports a more compassionate path.  Her third choice is to knock the wall the other way, to see Americans as they really are, the good and the bad, and to decide what is the best way to respond.

Think Baida is unusually deluded?  As a vegan, I see this dance all the time right here in America.  I used to do it myself.  On one side of the wall is loving animals, wishing them to be happy and free of suffering.  On the other side is eating them.  Those two things are incompatible.  For a long time, I did something like what Baida was doing in the prison.  I gave animals a hug, and then I sat down to eat them.  Oh, little piggy, you’re so cute and so yummy.  Ugh.

So if we recognize that this wall is keeping two incompatible beliefs in our mind, and we set out to be more consistent, what shall we do?  First we knock down the wall, and confront the painful contradiction that we love animals but we eat them.  It hurts too much to see this clearly, and something must change.  Some people knock the rubble down on the compassionate side, burying it, hardening their hearts, at least to food animals.  They are the ones who call pigs lazy and dirty and turkeys stupid.  They mock animal-supporters as sentimental “Bambi lovers.”  They may even work with animals, but they are blinded by the stereotype.  Or they feel they have no choice; there’s a part in Gail Eisnitz’ Slaughterhouse where she quotes a slaughterhouse worker.  I couldn’t find the text just now, but I think his job was to deal with the pigs who fall off the killing line, alive.  He went down into the pit they fall into, and one of the pigs nuzzled his leg and looked up at him.  He said he looked down and thought something like, “This was probably a really nice animal, but in another 30 seconds it would be my job to bash its head in with a pipe.  So I did it.”  Do you suppose that job takes a toll on a person?

The stories trump the obvious truth.  People somehow convince themselves that cows are for eating but cats are not.  People may even tell themselves that we need meat, even though they know lots of people are healthy without it.   People picture animals having a good life on Old McDonald’s Farm, even though they suspect that their meat comes from factory farms.   There is a fine line between ignorance and indifference, and sometimes we nail that line down so it doesn’t get away from us.  We don’t want to know.  The truth isn’t the only victim of this choice.  When we bury our compassion or shackle it to certain species, a heavy price is paid – a part of us, I would say the best part, is dead.

There’s a third choice.  When we confront this inconsistency – love animals or eat them, one or the other, can’t do both – and decide to love them, we can open our eyes to the truth.  I think you will find that vegans and vegetarians can more easily discuss animal body parts and watch difficult movies about animal suffering.  Everyone knows, deep in their hearts, that the “food” on the table is a bowl of arms and the animals in the videos are suffering, but the vegetarians have already faced this truth.  We don’t have the pain of dissonance, of inconsistency, of complicity.  For us it is just raw compassion, mixed with an affirmation of our decision.

Two years ago I knocked down the last of this particular wall, and I embraced love and compassion instead of cheese.  As the Buddha suggested, I find that this truth does good to one and all.  I will live it, and believe.

Delusion

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/magazine/16suicide-t.html

I was reading a chilling article in the NY Times Magazine recently,

“How Baida Wanted to Die.”  It was a series of interviews with

Baida, a foiled Iraqi female suicide bomber.  The Iraqi woman was in

prison, and the American woman interviewer was told by a police

director that she would like the Iraqi, “She’s honest.”

Of course, this was a very odd thing to say, but the interviewer

came to agree with him.  I think they both missed the point.  This

woman freely admitted what she had tried to do and said she couldn’t

wait to get out and get the explosive vest waiting for her.  She

said it was in revenge for a military raid (including Americans)

killing her brothers and her husband, all of whom she was helping

make IEDs (bombs).  She was making the bombs in revenge for seeing

the Americans shoot a neighbor.  She felt these IEDs were all being

used against the military, and when the interviewer told her the

vast majority killed ordinary Iraqis, she would only say that was

forbidden.

This woman may have been honest with the police, and she may have

been honest with the interviewer, but she was not honest with

herself, and I did not like her.  I feel compassion, yes, for her

being immersed in a patriarchal and religious extermist culture of

violence, where revenge seems like a reasonable use of one’s life.

It may have been this article or another where the author was

matter-of-factly listing off some recent bombings and casualties,

and I had to stop and take a deep breath.  It was all so insane.  As

Doctor Phil, would say, “How’s that working for you?”  Who is helped

by killing and revenge?  The dark mind finds brief satisfaction in

the suffering of one’s enemy, but is it joy?  Is it happiness?  It

is tinged with hate and anger – it cannot be good.

There was a fascinating part of the article where the Iraqi begs the

interviewer to come visit her in prison.  The journalist is warned

that the prisoner, who has a cell phone, may be settin her up for a

kidnapping by relatives.  The interviewer is careful and does not

tell when she’s coming and does not stay long.  She asks the Iraqi

if she wants to kill her, and the woman says “Frankly, yes.  Not

specifically you, because I know you.”  The interviewer pressed her,

would she betray her to her family?  “I won’t sacrifice my

friendship.  But if they insisted, yes, I would, yes.  As a

foreigner it is halal (good) to kill you.  If they kill Americans,

they will do a big huge banquet for dinner.”  And she smiled.  She

went on to tell how her relatives had called to get information

about the journalist, and promised to help Baida escape if she gave

it to them.  She seemed excited.  “They do not want to kill you, but

to torture you and make lunch of your flesh.  I could not do

anything to help you.”  She described seeing an American tortured,

and added “God keep you safe.”  She smiled again and continued

pleasantly, “If I had not seen you before and talked to you, I would

kill you with my own hands.  Do not be deceived by my peaceful face.

I have a heart of stone.”  The journalist left hurriedly, knowing

Baida had called her cousins when she arrived, and they were on

their way for her.

Baida’s speech sounds psychotic, but it’s just torn.  She has a wall

up in her mind between two things that she believes: “Americans are

bad and I want them to die.”  “Americans are friendly and helpful

and I don’t want them to die.”  This wall is crucial to her daily

functioning because obviously these two things are mutually

exclusive.  In this fascinating speech, you can see her dancing back

and forth from sentence to sentence, peeking first on one side and

then the other side of this wall.  Baida has three choices.  Her

first choice is to continue to wobble back and forth in this

dissonant way, believing two incompatible things.  The alternative

is to knock down the wall.  It will be painful to knock it down and

see both sides at once, because she will see that her model doesn’t

work, that she must give up one of these ideas.  So her second

choice is to believe all Americans are evil and must die; she will

then have to convince herself that each American that she meets is

evil, from the soldiers handing out candy bars, to the aid workers,

and even friendly interviewers.  She will have to mock anyone who

supports a more compassionate path.  Her third choice is to knock

the wall the other way and turn to peace.

Think Baida is unusually deluded?  As a vegan, I recognize this

dance all the time right here in America.  I used to do it myself.

On one side of the wall is loving animals, wishing them to be happy

and free of suffering.  On the other side is eating them.  Think

about it.  Those two things are incompatible.  For a long time, I

did exactly what Baida was doing.  I gave animals a hug, and then I

sat down to eat them.  Dick King-Smith is a chldren’s author (think

“Babe” who is a master at expressing people’s discomfort with this

dissonance, often showing the switch within two sentences.  In this

excerpt, from Ace, the Very Important Pig, Farmer Tubbs is delighted

his piglet is communicating with him, and remembers he’s the

grandson of Babe: “‘So you never know, young Ace – you might be an

extraordinary pig when you’m full grown.’  Except you never will be

full grown, thought the farmer.  I shall sell you…when you’m eight

weeks old, and a few months after that you’ll…be pork.  He was

careful…not to say this out loud…  The piglet might understand

what he was saying.”

So if we recognize that this wall is keeping two incompatible

beliefs in our mind, and we set out to be more consistent, what

shall we do?  First we knock down the wall, and confront the painful

contradiction that we love animals but we eat them.  It hurts too

much to see this clearly, and we must change.  Some people knock the

rubble down on the compassionate side, burying it.  They are the

ones who call pigs lazy and dirty and turkeys stupid.  They mock

animal-supporters as sentimental “Bambi’lovers.”  They may even work

with animals, but they only see the stereotype, not the honest

animal.  They have to willfully enforce their delusions.

There is another children’s story that I recently read to my

daughter that I found illuminating in its simplicity.  “The Three

Erics” is in the wacky book Wayside School, by Louis Sachar. There

are three boys named Eric in the class.  Wikipedia puts it well:

“Each one is given an inapproriate, stereotyped, and just plain

wrong nickname.”  Two of them are fat, and everyone thinks that all

three Erics are fat, so they call the skinny one Fatso.  The kids in

the class make judgements about the Erics based on some of them,

instead of directly seeing and understanding.  They see two mean

Erics so they tell themselves a story that Erics are mean, and when

they come to nickname the third Eric, instead of seeing how nice he

is, they are blinded by their story, and they call him Crabapple.

Similarly, two of the Erics are bad at sports, so the one who is

good at sports is nicknamed Butterfingers.  At first listen, this

just seems silly, but it isn’t hard to think of real-life

situations.  You’re walking down a dark street in a bad part of town

and a group of African Americans is approaching you.  All the

stereotypes pop into your head and you become afraid, but these guys

may turn out to be a pastor and his boys choir leaving evening

services.  Remember the police who killed an innocent immigrant in

his doorway?  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo)  The

police just saw the whole scene differently, and missed all the cues

that this wasn’t a thug.

So when someone says “Pigs are stupid,” they aren’t basing this on

any direct experience.  Pigs are actually probably smarter than

dogs.  Turkeys can be very affectionate.  At least the Erics’

classmates based their stereotypes on direct experiences with some

Erics – what experience do we have with turkeys?  All these kinds of

statements are an attempt to keep the wall pushed over that way.

Because it if falls on the other side, we have to change, not only

our minds, but our behavior.

Two years ago I knocked down the last of that particular wall, but I

embraced love and compassion instead of cheese.

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